Thursday October 8th, 2009
I had been through Detroit many times as a kid, my father would often take my brother and I to a Tigers game, Cobo for the International Auto Show, etc. It seemed like every time we went to Detroit, we’d see something on fire… a house, a car, something. Then, my first job after graduating high school was selling credit card processing machines to businesses, door to door (talk about a shitty job, huh?). I was 17 years old then, a white kid wandering the streets of Detroit for 8 hours a day in a suit and tie… definitely an eye opener for me at the time.
I first started to film Detroit in 2002, basically out of sheer boredom. Like many Union workers, I was generally laid off at least a few months out of the year, and one day decided to head down to Detroit with my new video camera and document some of the worst areas. My intentions were never to give the city a bad name, good name, anything. You could say that I had no intentions other than to merely see for myself the destruction that lies only a few miles from home, and share this with others. Many Detroiters on Youtube criticize me for showing only the bad parts of the city, and not showing the good areas. I openly acknowledge that there are some really nice areas of the city, and that the whole city does not looks like my videos. I admit that. On the other hand, MOST of the city looks like what I film. The downtown area has been improving with the new stadiums and casinos, but I feel that little has been done outside of downtown. Detroit is roughly 140 square miles, and about 75 square miles of that is abandoned! Name ONE other US city that can compare to that!
What amazes me is that Detroit was once such a rich, powerful city… and now lays in nearly total ruin. It was once referred to as “the Paris of the west” for it’s architecture. Today, many of these buildings still stand, but a good number are beyond repair. The physical deterioration of the city is just astounding, well beyond what the videos can show. What intrigues me is the sheer scale of destruction that, to my knowledge, is unmatched by any other US city. Many people try to argue with me on Youtube that you can find areas like this in any city, which you can, but not on Detroit’s scale. To argue that is just absurd.
I think it’s important that people are aware of Detroit’s state, regardless of how you interpret it or what you do with the information. Some hardcore Detroiters on Youtube have told me what a horrible person I am for showing only only the bad areas. They think that the bad areas should not be shown at all. They think that I don’t “have the right” to film these areas. It’s funny that those same people are the ones saying, “what are you doing to help”? Well, how do you expect people to help you if they aren’t aware of your situation? What it boils down to is being ashamed of where you live. And who came blame them?